This week’s blog is brought to you by the letter ‘R’! Relationships. Reforming. Renewal. Restoration. Reconciliation. ReconciliACTION (okay, so that one we just made up).
Edmonton Christian Northeast School in partnership with Centrepoint Church hosted reForming Relationships, “a cross-country art tour inspired by our Creator’s call to live as people of reconciliation”. This art show, from the Indian Metis Christian Fellowship featured a series of sixteen paintings, by Ovid Bighetty, depicting the Easter story. It became the impetus for a week of exploring and understanding our historical and our current relationship with First Nations, Metis and Inuit people. Teacher Bernice Ooms became involved in planning activities for the week:
“This was a perfect opportunity to showcase the diversity and uniqueness of our First Nations brothers and sisters. God has blessed us with a multicultural country and I strongly feel that as a Christian community we need to work on understanding and appreciating people who we come into contact with. As Canadians, we’re living in a ‘culture of fear’ and we can’t give into this mindset.”
Mr. Harold Rosscher guided students through a viewing of the art show. There were a number of other events aimed at renewal in relationships through understanding and respect (another ‘R’ word). Once again, Bernice Ooms:
“Anytime we have a chance to experience the culture, food, celebrations, dance, etc. of another culture we are looking beyond ourselves and perhaps even getting beyond our comfort zone. Loving your neighbour is not always easy but it’s what God calls us to do. [It] is a command, not a suggestion.”
We saw first hand some of the cultural practices of our first peoples in the form of music and dance.
Some classes made bannock.
Several classes from both Northeast and West Schools participated in a blanket exercise, a hands-on way to explore the relationship with Indigenous people on “Turtle Island” (now known as Canada), to work towards reconciliation and to empower people to build bridges of understanding and respect. The exercise is a succinct overview of First Nations, Metis and Inuit history in Canada. It has been done thousands of times since its origination in 1997.
The blanket exercise concluded with some reflection circles. It was obvious by what students said that this exercise was impactful:
“It made me wonder what Canada would look like if we had respected the First Nations.”
“I was shocked that Christians were involved in this. We have hidden some things from our past.”
“A whole flourishing group crumbled. It was numbing.”
“I have such respect for First Nations now that I see this.”
On ReconciliACTION –what can I do?
“Actually listen to their stories.” . . . “When I see a First Nations person I need to remember their story.” . . . “Share stories.”
“Stop racial jokes” . . . “Don’t stereotype–go deeper.”
“Learn more.” … “Seek to understand.”
“There is hope! Each step we take can bring healing.”
The vision statement for our schools: Edmonton Christian Schools—Accepting Christ’s invitation to live for renewal. Invitation given. Invitation received–again! That leaves us with just one more ‘R’ word–Respond! Pray for the grace needed for that to happen in each of our lives.